Refinishing 1959 Les Paul Junior

BCGadgets

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Hi all-

I purchased a '59 junior 6 years ago and it came to me with no finish on the body. I've been gigging this guitar heavily for 6 years and think it's finally time to protect the wood. I never intend on getting the guitar restored (had a heel break, was once routed for a humbucker etc.) but I do want to preserve it as best as possible.

Is there a rub on oil or varnish that I could apply to at least offer some protection from the elements?

Thank you
 

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therealfrogman

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I would either leave it alone (It looks good) or use some reranch nitro clear maybe 3-4 coats and keep playing it. That is an ass kicking look right there and I would keep it that way. I would avoid rubbing oil into it. I am just a simpleton.
 

rabidhamster

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Hi all-

I purchased a '59 junior 6 years ago and it came to me with no finish on the body. I've been gigging this guitar heavily for 6 years and think it's finally time to protect the wood. I never intend on getting the guitar restored (had a heel break, was once routed for a humbucker etc.) but I do want to preserve it as best as possible.

Is there a rub on oil or varnish that I could apply to at least offer some protection from the elements?

Thank you
Only good choices are nitrocellulose lacquer or shellac. Nitrocellulose lacquer is what won’t look weird and out of place, everything else will. Shellac can be wiped on, is easy to repair and won’t prevent the future owner, after you’re gone, being able to put the correct looking finish on it
 

lowatter

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Nice axe. Any idea on what it started out life as color wise? I would ponder taking it back to the original color.
What's up with the pickguard?
 

cherrick

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Nice axe. Any idea on what it started out life as color wise? I would ponder taking it back to the original color.
What's up with the pickguard?
I think he said it was routed for a humbucker.
 

cherrick

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Only good choices are nitrocellulose lacquer or shellac. Nitrocellulose lacquer is what won’t look weird and out of place, everything else will. Shellac can be wiped on, is easy to repair and won’t prevent the future owner, after you’re gone, being able to put the correct looking finish on it
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If you're going to do NitroCellulose I believe you will want to first apply grain sealer/filler. And you may want to apply a finish coat or two with a slight amber tint that you apply over several thin coats.

A consideration with NitroCellulose - you might want an opaque color rather than something translucent, like a sunburst or natural. If the grain is not spectacular, you might want the opaque. Perhaps TV Yellow? Or possibly a vintage "greened" Pelham Blue or a vintage Inverness Green.

Look:
Wildwood made Gibson do it.
 

redking

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If you want to do something that is "wipe on" to make it quick and easy and protect the wood a bit, I would recommend doing a sealer coat of genuine flake shellac (you can get shellac flakes and shellac thinner from Lee Valley) and then a few coats of Birchwood Casey Tru Oil. If you want to add some color, you could use water based aniline dye after your sealer coat of shellac, then rub on the dye, then do another sealer coat of shellac, then rub on the Tru Oil. This will not be as resilient as lacquer or poly, but it will be nice and thin and much more protective than the bare wood. Watch some youtube videos to see how others do it.
 

crowemag82

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If you just want preserve just oil the body. Maybe once a year or so. Tru oil, gun oil, whatever.
 

redking

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If you just want preserve just oil the body. Maybe once a year or so. Tru oil, gun oil, whatever.
To be clear, "gunstock" oil is the product for the job to seal and protect wood - derived from boiled linseed oil ("Tru Oil" is one brand by Birchwood Casey). Gun oil is used to lubricate the moving metal parts in a firearm and you definitely DO NOT want to use that on wood.
 

BCGadgets

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Thank you all for the replies, I'll look into the Shellac then oil combination. I like how resonant the guitar is without any paint, I just get worried when i get sweaty at gigs or have close calls with beer at bars when playing out.
 

redking

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Thank you all for the replies, I'll look into the Shellac then oil combination. I like how resonant the guitar is without any paint, I just get worried when i get sweaty at gigs or have close calls with beer at bars when playing out.
The reason why shellac is good as a sealer and base coat is because it sticks to everything, so it is good in the "middle" of a sandwich. Shellac is not a good topcoat however because it has an alcohol base, and spilled drinks, etc over time could break down the finish.
 

crowemag82

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To be clear, "gunstock" oil is the product for the job to seal and protect wood - derived from boiled linseed oil ("Tru Oil" is one brand by Birchwood Casey). Gun oil is used to lubricate the moving metal parts in a firearm and you definitely DO NOT want to use that on wood.
Correct....gunstock oil!
 

redking

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Correct....gunstock oil!
For me finishing oils are like Goldilocks and the 3 bears: Danish oil is too thin, Tung oil is too thick and gummy, and Tru Oil is "juuussssst right" :)
 

LtDave32

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Hi all-

I purchased a '59 junior 6 years ago and it came to me with no finish on the body. I've been gigging this guitar heavily for 6 years and think it's finally time to protect the wood. I never intend on getting the guitar restored (had a heel break, was once routed for a humbucker etc.) but I do want to preserve it as best as possible.

Is there a rub on oil or varnish that I could apply to at least offer some protection from the elements?

Thank you
That's a bitchin' old jr...
 

cmjohnson

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FYI, shellac is a perfect base layer for spraying nitrocellulose lacquer over it if you choose to give it a proper vintage style finish, which I personally would highly recommend.

So it's been routed for a humbucker...so what? It's still a cool vintage guitar even if it'll never be all original again. I don't see that it means that it has to be treated as a beater with no finish. If it were mine I'd redo it in an original spec finish (red, I think, because personally I can't stand TV yellow...) and I'd have a pickguard made for it that matches the original shape as per the photo of the TV yellow example posted earlier, but cut to add the humbucker route. I'd do what I can to make it as it once was and try to make the added pickup look as much like a rare factory option as possible.
 

voices

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as its a vintage guitar...and if you could afford to, i would restore the finish. the repairs are negligible seeing as you use the guitar on a regular basis..just get a correct pickguard or equivalent.

if that were mine...i put a TV yellow in it in a New York minute.

Either way, its an awesome guitar OP!
 


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